Watch Now: Meet Zahra Lari, The UAE's First Female Figure Skater

She is the first international skater to compete wearing a hijab

Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, Zahra Lari is a professional figure skater who has competed in international competitions. Bazaar sat down with the talented 22-year-old to learn about how she got into skating, her journey to success and more.

During the interview, Lari shared that achieving her dreams didn't come easy. After watching the Disney movie Ice Princess at age 12, she begged her parents to take ice skating lessons. Lari explained how both of her parents were worried that she would get injured from skating and that it would affect her grades in school. But after her parents saw how passionate she was about the sport, they supported her. Three years later, she became the master of complicated spins and jumps. 

“When I started skating I’d get deductions for being covered. They [the judges] had never seen covered skaters before, but after holding several meetings, I am now proud to say that Hijabi women can skate free of fear," she shares. 

Breaking down stereotypes, Lari became the first international skater to compete wearing a hijab. She is a part of Nike's campaign for Nike Pro Hijab, a performance hijab to better serve Muslim female athletes. The Nike Pro Hijab will be available early December in stores online. 

Photography by Grace Guino

Lari shares with Bazaar that she feels proud and honoured to be the first Emirati skater. When asked who inspires her, she says Michelle Kwan. Lari says she met Kwan and will be working with her in the future.

"When she [Michelle Kwan] retired [from] skating she still focused a lot on her career and trying to make a difference in the world and that's what I want to do as well," she says.  

Lari's ultimate goal is to compete in the Winter Olympics. She recently participated in the Winter Olympic Qualifiers that took place between 26 September and 1 Oct, and unfortunately did not qualify. Regardless of the outcome, Lari wants the world to know that Emirati athletes are strong.

"We're confident women who know what we want and we work very hard to accomplish our goals," she states. 

When asked what her message is to aspiring women, she responded with: "You can do anything you want to do in life. Never let anyone stop you and never let anyone tell you that you can't do anything because you can do it."

Press play in the video at the top to watch the full interview. 

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